In the Studio with Kenny Scharf

If you are familiar with Kenny Scharf's work, you know he is inexplicably identified with his crazy cartoon characters.  Alongside Keith Haring and Jean-Michael Basquiat and under the tutelage of Andy Warhol, Kenny was considered a key figure in the pop art/post punk culture of New York in the 80's.
Kenny's Jetsons meets Flintstones cartoon(ish) characters that look like they are moving through a lava lamp, often on outer space backgrounds as they have been described, express hope,  joy, optimism and FUN!  I can tell you first hand Kenny also has them tattooed on his body.

"Fred and Wilma in Heaven" 1980


"OLA"  2005

"Space and Blob" 2004

Kenny began his career as a graffiti artist, and maybe that's why his characters morphed into the perfect street style subjects.  I bet a mural can be seen somewhere in the world at any given time.

Pasadena Art Center College School of Design, mural arts, 2015

The man photobombs cars and has his own carasouel.


I really enjoy his donut series:YUM

I had a special interest in meeting Kenny.  It took a little doing, but eventually we connected and he invited us to his studio.  He said it was hard to find, but we pretty much figured it out : )

We sat along side him while he painted.  He is getting ready for a few shows.  Art Walk  will be honoring Kenny next month, and MOMA is exhibiting him next year in a group show.  The man is busy!

I asked Kenny what he remembered most about his years spent in NY in the 80's, living with Keith Harring, clubing and doing the whole underground thing.  His response was, "death."  They are inexplicably tied together.  The loss of so many friends overshadowed everything.

Andy Warhol, Jacqueline Schnabel, Jean-Michel Basquiat,Julian Schnabel
Kenny Scharf, NY 1984 ph via: ArtHolics

We spent an hour or so in another dimension, and I was transported back to my middle school years when I loved watching The Flintstones!  I could sing with Ann Margrock; "I love you, but I ain't gonna be a fool" and wondered if I could rock a bone in my hair?  It was apropos as we went back in time, the men telling childhood stories and weaving the family tree together.

Kenny and Steven are cousins.

Photos:Kenny Scharf , CLI


Design From Within

Here it is... Two years in the making. I am enthusiastically embarking on something new and unknown which more often than not brings up a mixed bag of emotions.  I know not where this road will take me but an looking forward to the ride!

                                                         Carrie Leskowitz Interiors

Buckle up and join me!
Love to hear your thoughts if you care to drop me a line.

Feeling as if you're on Holiday

Serena Crawford is living my dream life.  I have never met Serena Crawford, in fact, I had never heard of Serena Crawford until last week.  Now I am in obsessed with her awe inspiring life and style.
Coincidentally, when I was writing my last post on African influence in design, I happened to simultaneously be listening to James Swan's podcast on Million Dollar Decorator.  If you haven't heard  James interview designers and those in the design field, take a listen.  It's a treat.  That day I had the great pleasure of hearing James interview Serena.  Serena Crawford has the great luxury of building, designing, and decorating homes for herself!  She and her husband then sell them and move on.  Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, her journey has taken her from South Africa to Sydney, with her eye on London.  The homes are warm, inviting, dramatic in their placement, and truly reflect Serena. .

Serena says she always wants to feel like she is on holiday. Wouldn't that be nice!  It is fun to see much of the same slip covered furniture, Ango-Indian and Flemish pieces, blue and white pottery, etc. go from home to home, each time in a fresh unique way.  Serena reiterated what I had said in the story below. Due to a lack of resources, she and her team were forced to become very resourceful, much custom made in the building process.  She introduced  the loggia, decorated just like an interior room, as an outdoor extension of the home in Australia, when she built a home in Sydney.

Serena talks of her love for bathing outdoors.  In each home she was able to build in a private bathing oasis.  She loves it so much that she laughingly said sometimes she has to lay in the tub with an umbrella shielding her from the sun because she has gotten burnt before while bathing.  That's the beauty of building from scratch.  You can completely customize everything to your exact standards.  Lucky for Serena she has beautiful style that many appreciate, because I don't think she is in these homes very long before someone comes along and wants to buy one.

What a privilege it must be to build and design for yourself, sell it and move on to do it again. Granted, it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I love the idea of reinvention.  Taking along those pieces that hold the most joy and help keep you rooted means something.

Follow Serena's adventures on Instagram and check out her portfolio for more.  She is one lucky girl living a well designed life.

photos:Serena Crawford

Africa on my Mind

I was reading an interesting article talking about the emerging African market and how it is impacting popular culture and the global economy, specifically as it relates to the area of beauty, fashion and home design.  Trend watchers attributed it to the younger, more social media savvy kids,  the growing affluence of their middle class as well as a designer's ability to showcase collections to an international audience in a global marketplace, and a demand for and love of an ethnic look, juxtaposed into any number of carefully curated interiors.  It is being called a trend (again) but it has more significance and staying power than that.

ph: Giulio Rustichelli via Flair Magazine

The "African flavor" as it was described by Dion Chang, a respected South African trend analyst, explains the innate heritage of African designers and the lack of resources lending a very specific voice to the graphic patterns, brightly mixed colors, ritualistic and/or naturalistic accessories, textiles and furniture that we incorporate into our design choices.  The vivid colors as well as neutrals are as varied as the setting sun over the landscape of the Serengeti with animal prints in the mix (of course) for good measure.

I think the best way to incorporate this look, or any look for that matter, is to take a less is more  approach.  A few carefully curated pieces make enough of a statement to whisper the aesthetic, not shout it.

Jacque Grange

I enthusiastically wrote about designer Anna Trzebinski  and her African inspiration and beautiful collection here.

At the NY NOW gift show several manufacturers where displaying tribal art and artifacts ~  each piece seemed to have a story to tell.

Outpost Original

Ngala Trading

Breathtaking ~

ph: PersAnders Pettersson

I myself have incorporated a juju hat or two into a project.  Originally from Cameroon, they represent prosperity.  I love them for their color, texture and shape.

Beautifully woven baskets reflecting the unique aesthetic of each region is often one of the most lucrative businesses there is in the more remote areas.  The weaving techniques passed down for generations.

The Kuba pattern, originally from the Congo, is a highly visible, universally beloved pattern.  Its meaning is interpreted as an interuption of the expected line and the shift in form.

Interior designers have incorporated this look for years.  Several initiatives and incubators have sprung up to help "fast track" many African fashion designers.  Fashion Week in London and NY have seen an insurgence of young talent.  It is long overdue.